Differences and overlaps in social cognition performance between in schizophrenia and autism


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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Similar levels of social cognitive impairment may be present in individuals with schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD), according to an article published in JAMA Psychiatry.

A review and meta-analysis investigated how deficits in social cognitive domains diverge or overlap between schizophrenia spectrum disorders (SSDs) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The qualitative analysis included 36 studies directly comparing social cognitive performance in individuals with SSDs versus ASD, and 33 studies were included in the quantitative analyses. The primary outcomes were performance on emotion processing tasks, theory of mind (ToM) tasks, and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET) in SSDs compared with ASD. Meta-regressions were performed for age difference, publication year, quality assessment scores, and antipsychotic medication use.

The included studies highlighted the prevalence of small, male-predominant samples and a scarcity of cross-disorder clinical measures. The meta-analyses revealed no statistically significant differences between SSDs and ASD on emotion processing measures, ToM measures, or the RMET. However, the researchers note that SSDs vs ASD performance differences between studies were statistically significantly heterogeneous.

These results highlight the need for cross-disorder studies of social cognition with larger samples, including adolescents, and consistent reporting of measures that may impact outcome, the authors conclude.